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Chabad of VA Installs Accessible Bimah So All May Participate

By , Richmond, VA

Chabad of Virginia is welcoming the New Year with the installation of a brand new accessible bimah, friendly to people who use wheelchairs.

Inspired by the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative (RCII) to provide accommodations to people with disabilities, the new accessible bimah is a practical way to overcome barriers for people who use wheelchairs or who need the bimah lowered. According to Rabbi Yossel Kranz, Chabad Rabbi of VA, the new bimah, which is a standard height, can be lowered to 30 inches from the ground with “just a push and a click.”

“Chabad has always been spiritually inclusive,” Rabbi Kranz said. With the new adjustable bimah, “ we can do that physically as well. Everybody of all abilities can now participate.”

The Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative (RCII) is a partnership between Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters and the Ruderman Family Foundation. Funded with a four-year grant by the Ruderman Family Foundation, it will provide practical and comprehensive support to Chabad community leaders seeking to advance inclusion of people with disabilities within communities worldwide.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe pioneered the concept of Jewish inclusion in its truest form, says to Dr. Sarah Kranz-Ciment, Director of the RCII. “The Rebbe taught us to value every person based solely on his or her inner essence. The Rebbe reinforced his message of inclusion by encouraging and urging his representatives to make Judaism accessible to every Jew, no matter where they are physically or spiritually.”

Nathan Zasler and his wife Lisa donated the funds to build the accessible bimah. “ I hope that it sets a model for other synagogues, not just for Chabad, to be more inclusive.” Mr. Zasler said.

When Chabad of VA was planning to redesign their building, Kranz-Ciment challenged her brother, Rabbi Yossel Kranz, to incorporate accessibility. “I encouraged him to make the building accessible now that they were renovating it,” Dr. Kranz-Ciment related. Months later, she said, Rabbi Kranz surprised her when she visited the synagogue and showed her the newly designed accessible bimah, which had just been delivered.

“I am so proud that my brother found a way to make this happen, that he saw the importance of valuing the participation of each member of our community,” she said.

After an unsuccessful search for manufacturers of accessible bimahs, he decided that the shul would have to design and build one. The result is a beautiful design, custom made for the synagogue.  

The accessible bimah can be custom made for your synagogue in any finish and size from Chabad of VA.


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